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The Center of the Labyrinth

I thought I was just depressed.

My appetite was almost nonexistent, unless it was for ice cream or donuts.

I had walked into the void, willingly, but I couldn't find my way back out. I was trapped. The dark labyrinth had taken too many turns. My parents divorce. A beloved's illness. The crushing weight of responsibility that never stops.

I was relying on lots of old vices to prop me up. I thought I needed to drastically change my life so that I could be "happy" and "purposeful" again.

Maybe I should go back to working on the floor at the hospital? Maybe I should put my kids into full time school and preschool? Maybe I should finally go back for my CRNP?

I was looking for a change of scenery, some excitement, and honestly, distraction. I wanted numbness. Busy, distracted, numbness. The kind that is sold to us cheap but costs us everything.

I decided to stay on this dark labyrinth. To stop trying to blow a hole through the walls to escape. I called in the support of my plant allies, my ancestors, and other beloved dead, took a deep breath, and kept walking.

What felt like depression was actually the precipice of heartbreak. It was the frozen, intolerable threshold of the temple. It was the enchantment that keeps us paralyzed and guards our deepest treasure.

Around the next turn in this velvet darkness, I encountered the throne room. The altar of my burning heart. Holiest of holies. This is the place where everything that is real is felt and known.

My broken, blazing heart that fully feels the love I have for my children, my husband, my parents, this land. It fully feels the grief and loss of suffering and death and disaster. It is the great leveler, the time-stopper, pulling back the veil and bringing the mind face to face with the depth of what matters.

The mind must be quiet in reverence for the holiness of this place. If the mind begins to weave its tales of entitlement or deservingness or victimization, the temple doors abruptly close and I am back in exile. But if the mind remains supple, flowing, non-grasping, it swirls and snakes its way around the heart like a lover. They are one, a pulsing force of life, in service of the meaning that makes the heart blaze.

In the throne room, I am brought to my knees by the agony of real love. Love that requires something from me. Love that asks me to risk, and fail, and suffer.

I see, again, for the millionth time, the look in Torrin's eyes in the hour after his birth, as he struggled to breathe and nearly leaves this world. The look that says "help me, I am depending on you." This love requires so much ache and sacrifice and intuition and instinct.

I hear the lyrics to the songs on Mike's playlist, the ones that he says remind him of me, of us. There is reckoning that comes with knowing that I am so well loved, and needed, and cherished. Letting that feeling in blows the doors off of the stories about inadequacy and self-doubt. It requires me to show up as a woman who is fully loved. No more hiding.

I see my daughter's creativity and sweetness and how much she helps me and infuses my life with joy and stability. I reel at the thought that she will be in high school next year, and will leave a giant hole in my days. I melt from the love that requires such deep letting go. It asks too much of me. How can I love her so much and so long, and then let her go? Love feels cruel in this moment, but I remain soft, I continue to say yes to even this love.

On and on it goes. I feel the surges of lava that pour forth from my broken heart. And I realize, just like a volcano, this molten love is what creates the foundation for all that is possible in my life. This love and the longing for this love to be whole and healthy, and for my life to be worthy of such an abundance, this is what everything is about. This is the foundation of every decision that I make, every word I speak, every action that I take. Only when the mind works out of concert with this sacred heart can I possibly make decisions that are not serving this force of holy belonging.

The feelings of depression, they were the thick layer of abandoned thoughts, repressed feelings, unowned failures....the sludge of a life that congealed around the instrument of healing. They were the shame that convinced me that I was not worthy to enter the temple.

I share my story that it might be encouragement. Do not give up. There may be something profoundly beautiful, something that you cannot even imagine right now, directly on the other side of this moment.

In suppleness, in surrender, in the arms of our allies (or the leaves/branches if they are plants), we may find our way to the throne room.

I have not returned from this journey, but I have finally made it to the center of the labyrinth.

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